Movie Review: The Departed

By Amy Lamare, October 7, 2006

Not since Goodfellas and Casino have we had Martin Scorsese (MSCOR) at his nitty gritty, bleak, crime-ridden, witty best. But babies, with the release of The Departed (DPRTD), the Scorsese that keeps us glued to the edge of our seats is back. The Gangs of New York this is not, people. The Departed has everything devoted cinephiles love about Scorsese flicks. It boasts a complicated, deliciously twisted storyline rife with characters who allow themselves to go just to the edge of sanity before reeling in their performance. Plus there’s the added enhancement of the moody and shadowy lighting that is a staple of Scorsese’s best work.

The soul of this plot lies in the characters played by Leo DiCaprio (LDCAP) and Matt Damon (MDAMO) and their interaction with one another. Each is a mole. DiCaprio is a cop pretending to be a criminal and Damon is a criminal insinuating himself into the police force. Damon was handpicked by Irish mob boss Jack Nicholson (JNICH) at a young age to slip into the ranks of the State Police. He quickly rises through the ranks and obtains a position in the Special Investigation Unit. The Unit’s main focus is to take down Irish Mob Boss Nicholson, which shows what a good planner he turned out to be.

DiCaprio, on the other hand, has a reputation for being a bit of a hothead with street cred. He is asked by his sergeant Mark Wahlberg (MWAHL) and Captain Martin Sheen (MSHEE) to indulge his hot head rep and allow them to very publicly oust him from the police force, send him to prison and then let him loose on the streets where he will then have the sort of resume that mob boss Nicholson finds attractive. The plan works and in short order, DiCaprio is a member of the Boston Irish Mafia.

Of course it is only a matter of time before our two moles’ paths cross. During a crucial illicit transaction between the Irish mob and the Chinese government both cops and criminals recognize that a mole is imbedded within each of their groups. Scorsese does an excellent job of mounting the tension in excruciating increments as DiCaprio and Damon must find out who the other mole is before they are found out themselves. This whole storyline plays out in ways wonderfully reminiscent of Scorsese’s 1990 masterpiece Goodfellas.

The sheer brilliance of Scorsese’s storytelling blurs the line between good and bad to a point where audiences easily forget that DiCaprio is a good guy living amongst the bad guys and Damon the bad guy living amongst the good. And in the reality our world currently exists in, aren’t those very lines blurred as well? Scorsese again triumphs in delivering a film that carries a strong commentary on current socio-political themes without being overly didactic.

The Departed is scripted by William Monahan and is brilliantly adapted from the 2002 Hong Kong hit film Internal Affairs. Monahan is a native of Boston and realizes the gangs of Boston and neighborhood personalities as only a native son could. The Departed is viscerally bleak – a vision supported throughout all technical aspects of the flick. From the cinematography to the score, the editing to the directing, the script to the performances -all blend seamlessly together to deliver a film that is filmmaking at it best.

And I didn’t even mention Alec Baldwin’s (ABALD) brilliant performance. When did he turn into such a deliciously devilish baddie, anyway?

The Departed opens nationwide Friday, October 06, 2006.

This work is the property of Stock Exchange and Amy Lamare. It is not to be reused, reprinted or stolen under any conditions.

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